Raised in northern Alberta, Chef Tracy Little grew up hunting and foraging with her forester father. Later, the young culinarian developed an appreciation for food that tells a story about the place it comes from. That passion for hyper-local food that evokes a multi-sensory experience is the driving force behind Sauvage, a fine dining spot in the mountain town of Canmore.
What made you want to become a chef?
” I have hardcore ADHD, a love of science and biology, and an intense passion for the arts. I am not the best painter or musician, but I can fuse my love of the outdoors with my love of sensory experience. It is everything I ever wanted, in a package.”
Why do you use Alberta ingredients in your kitchen?
” I am the biggest fan of ensuring that future generations have a planet that is still viable. There is a lot more involved with factory farming and shipping than we have time to talk about. I love to tell my guests that we eat the weeds to save the planet. A lot of what I forage, due to how invasive and fast-growing it is, is detrimental to the local ecosystems. The things we forage that are native to the area, I am extremely careful with.”
What is your favourite Alberta ingredient to use?
“Trees. All the trees. From making flour from the cambium of a pine or spruce tree, the syrup from the birch, the pine nuts from the cones of a pine, there is so much more to trees than what we recognize and respect.”
What dish should guests be sure to try on your menu?
“Everything. Very few things on our menu are from outside of Alberta, and our service staff can help guide you through.”
What is a favourite kitchen/cooking memory?
“My uncle making my first “fine dining experience” in his home years ago. I was just starting culinary school, I already loved the buzz of the kitchen, but his aspiration for serving food with the most flavour drove me in the right direction. “The fresher, the better” he said, and that meant to my brain that loves drama meant, right from the ground/water/farm.”
Why do you take part in Alberta on the Plate?
“I think that certain other provinces I won’t name have good produce and production easy, but Albertan farmers have to be as hardy as our winters to survive. We have such amazing offerings here, we just have to fight a little harder for them. This is worth showing off!”